Toxic people are the bane of your social existence. And there are so many different kinds too. There are the ones who kill joy by seeing the darkness in everything. Then there are the ones who kill trust by gossiping and talking behind people’s backs. Oh and let’s not forget about the ones who will kill your self-esteem by taking every chance to tear you down and undermine your confidence.

The best thing you can do, of course, is avoid them like the plague – because in some ways that’s what negativity is. It is contagious and if you’re not well prepared or not in the right frame of mind, it can infect you. Don’t let it!

Instead, use these handy and hopeful tips to keep yourself sane.

Don’t let them drag you down to their level

Do you know the saying, “Don’t argue with idiots as they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience?” That’s true of toxic people as well. They’re far better at being negative and defeating than you are, so don’t fight them at their own game.

That doesn’t mean you can’t say anything about what they’re doing – you’ve got to point it out occasionally, otherwise just bottling all of that up will have you tearing your hair out.

But when you do say something, make certain that you don’t do it from a place of frustration or anger. Instead, do so from a calm place. Make your case without exaggeration or hyperbole. Tell them only the indisputable facts and then, if you can, let them mull it over before you discuss it.

Ration yourself

Sometimes you just have to be there for a friend because they’re having a bad time and they need your help. That’s a very admirable thing to do. Just make certain that you’re not the only person that ends up doing it by always being there.

Your time isn’t theirs, it is yours. If you want to give it to them, that’s fine. But it has to be appreciated and it can’t ever become expected. If it has become either of those things than something has gone terribly wrong.

Then it might be time to ration your time with them more tightly.

And don’t feel guilty about doing it either! After all, though perhaps we can’t control what happens to us in our lives, how we view what has happens is our own responsibility. What’s more, if you’re there too much for people you can turn from help into a crutch. You might end up enabling their behavior rather than helping them change that.

And how does that help anybody?

Set up your exit strategy

In order to ration your time, make certain you set up exist strategies. This is some mechanism whereby you can get away if they corner you. Either draw an actual list of excuses that you use, or use an app. Then you can pull on out of your sleeve when things become too much and can make a quick getaway before things become too bad.

It’s like a big panic button that you can press to get out and just having one of those can sometimes be enough to make a situation bearable.

Don’t complain about them

After you’re done with them, don’t become like them by complaining about them to other people, because then you’re allowing their toxicity to spread and infect the people you care about! Instead be the dam, be the wall, be the container that keeps that person’s toxicity from spreading on to your friends.

In that way, you’re also making certain that you don’t become the next toxic person. What’s more, just because it feel good, doesn’t mean that it actually helps. Take this parable: If I love somebody and I show it all the time, by buying flowers, taking them out to dinner and telling them how I feel, do I end up feeling less love? Or will I feel more love?

Well, if it works that way with love (and with anger) then it’s going to work that way with frustration and irritation as well. And that is the absolute last thing you should let a person like this do!

So instead, focus on the good things, the little inspirations, and don’t let this horrible, negative person occupy your mental real estate any more than they already do.

The opposite of depression

Isn’t happiness, according to the psychiatrist Peter Kramer, but is resilience. So work on being mentally resilient, by getting enough sleep, eating well, getting enough exercise, maintaining good relationships with people that aren’t toxic, having a purpose and being grateful for the good things in your life.

If you can do all of that then you’ll have the resilience in your life that even when you have to engage with toxic people, they’ll only be a minor annoyance and you won’t find yourself dwelling on the horrible things they’ve said and done.

The best way to resist the problems in life is to have mental balance, resilience and the strength to deal with your problems effectively or ignore them – whichever the better strategy might be. And if you can do that, you might just find that the people other people find toxic are actually quite funny and interesting, once you get to know them.

Or not, but then you’ve got all the other strategies I outlined above, don’t you?